Housing starts dropped 5.8% in March to a five-month low, the Commerce Department said Tuesday.
Starts fell to an annual rate of 654,000 units, from a revised 694,000 in February that was smaller than originally reported.
The March rate was lower than economists’ forecasts of a 705,000 rate, Bloomberg reported.
Building permits, an indicator of future construction, increased 4.5% to 747,000, the highest level since September 2008.
Single-family home starts, which account for about 85% of the total, dipped 0.2% to a 462,000 rate.
Work on multifamily units, which is often more volatile, dropped 17% to an annual rate of 192,000.
Starts declined 16% in the South, but rose 33% in the Northeast and 1% in the Midwest. Starts were little changed in the West.